M’sia must ramp up plans for travel bubbles to aid tourism recovery

THE COVID-19 pandemic has brought forth an unprecedented and multifaceted crisis as the threat of a global recession hangs over our heads.

With holidays and business trips being cancelled due to airlines being grounded and international borders being closed, the travel industry is among the hardest hit by the onslaught. With almost all international borders remaining closed at the present moment, international travel remains off the table for now.

But there is hope yet.

Malaysia has recently been in talks with several other Asian countries, including Singapore, Brunei, China, Japan, South Korea and Taiwan to establish travel bubbles.

In February 2021, the country has been given the green light by Indonesia over a Reciprocal Green Lane/Travel Corridor Arrangement (RGL/TCA) travel bubble between both nations, with many more of such travel bubbles expected in the coming months.

This is an excellent first step in the right direction, and the Government must get the ball rolling as soon as possible – with strict standard operating procedures (SOPs) in place, of course.

The country cannot simply rely on the domestic tourism industry to bring in the big bucks; it needs international tourists, along with investors, to boost its economy.

In addition to Indonesia, a travel bubble with Singapore must also be re-established soon. Both countries first established the reciprocal travel bubble arrangement in August 2020. However, Singapore suspended the plan in February 2021, amid the resurgence of coronavirus cases worldwide.

According to a report by Al Jazeera, there are an estimated one million Malaysian citizens living in Singapore, while many others commute to work from across the border. Before the pandemic, there were an estimated 90,000 Singaporeans living in Malaysia.

Now that at least 152 countries and territories have administered more than 564 million doses of a COVID-19 vaccine (according to CNN), perhaps it is time for countries to reconsider the possibilities of reopening their borders.

International borders cannot remain closed forever, and with the vaccine rollouts being underway, the establishment of travel bubble would be a crucial and much-needed move going forward to facilitate the recovery of the tourism sector and subsequently revive the global economy. – March 31, 2021

Subscribe and get top news delivered to your Inbox everyday for FREE